Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Draft of secret copyright treaty should give you chills

Draft of secret copyright treaty should give you chills
Posted by John Murrell on November 4th, 2009 at 7:29 am

As the latest round of talks on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement go on in secret (for unspecified national security reasons), some information on the U.S.-written draft of the Internet chapter has begun to leak out, and, as feared, the heavy hand of the entertainment industry is readily apparent and the implications for Internet service providers, consumers and innovation in general are grim. Being rendered near speechless, I’ll let others summarize:

* Jolie O’Dell at ReadWriteWeb: “[The draft proposal] would require ISPs to police user-generated content, to cut off Internet access for copyright violators, and to remove content that is accused of copyright violation without any proof of actual violation. The chapter also completely prohibits DRM workarounds, even for archiving or retrieving one’s own work. … As it stands, the leaks suggest Internet users around the world are headed for a new regime of IP enforcement — a culture of invasive searches, minimal privacy, guilt until innocence is proven, and measures that would kill our normative behaviors of file-sharing, free software, media downloading, creative remixing, and even certain civil liberties.”

* Patricio Robles at Econsultancy: “In essence, ACTA would drastically alter the IP enforcement landscape in member nations/bodies, which include the E.U. and U.S. In many cases, ACTA would be in conflict with existing laws in the member nations, or would effectively create laws for which there is no existing equivalent. Now I’m all for the protection of intellectual property, but there’s something quite wrong about an international trade agreement written in secret under the guise of dealing with ‘anti-counterfeiting’ that is really just a massive Trojan horse in a push for transnational regulation of the Internet.”

* Gwen Hinze at the Electronic Frontier Foundation: “The Internet provisions have nothing to do with addressing counterfeit products, but are all about imposing a set of copyright industry demands on the global Internet, including obligations on ISPs to adopt Three Strikes Internet disconnection policies, and a global expansion of DMCA-style [technology protection measures]. … U.S. negotiators are seeking policies that will harm the U.S. technology industry and citizens across the globe. Three Strikes/ Graduated Response is the top priority of the entertainment industry.”

* Mike Masnick at Techdirt: “It’s Hollywood’s dream. It would require signing countries to implement a more draconian version of the DMCA, including incredibly restrictive anti-circumvention wording that has no exception for fair use. It would put liability on third parties for the actions of their users (in other words, it wouldn’t include current DMCA-style safe harbors). It would create incentives to kick people off of the Internet for file sharing. This is not about free trade at all. This is an entertainment industry-written bill designed to recreate the Internet in its image — as a broadcasting platform, rather than one used for user-generated content and communication.”

ACTA -- A Patriot Act For the Internet
Read more at:
James Love
Director, Knowledge Ecology International
Posted: November 4, 2009 06:51 AM

This week 40 or so countries are meeting in South Korea to consider text for a new international agreement on the enforcement of intellectual property rights. It is called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The term "counterfeiting" is designed to demonize the agreement critics as friends of organized crime, much like the name of the Patriot Act seemed better than the "Elimination of Civil Liberties Act." It is really an agreement that addresses a wide range of intellectual property enforcement issues -- involving patents, copyrights, trademarks and other IPR. (Details here)

If you are a lowly member of the public, the text is secret. The names of persons who attend the meetings are secret. The titles of the documents are secret. If you represent a big firm or law firm -- pretty much any big firm it seems, the U.S. government will show you documents after you sign a non-disclosure agreement - curbing your right to speak out on the contents of the documents you see.

Some details of the negotiation have leaked out, most recently from a memo by Euopean Union describing the Obama Administration proposal for a new global system of Internet controls and liabilities. Michael Geist, Gwen Hienz of EFF, and a few journalists -- most living outside of the U.S., have written about ACTA.

The entire U.S. tech sector has been publicly silent, as the Obama administration has co-oped them into trading silence for access to the secret documents.

At this point, Congress needs to stand up and put an end to this appalling spectacle of secret legislation on a global scale. How can politicians claim to be all for transparency, and allow this indefensible violation of the public right to know proceed?

A large number of organizations and people have written President Obama asking that he end the secrecy of the negotiation. It is doubtful this will happen unless newspapers write about the issue (aren't they big advocates of the right to know?), members of Congress weigh in, or if the critics of the secret negotiation can mobilize public opinion.

There is a lot at stake. Civil rights, privacy, rules for injunctions and damages against businesses and individuals, chilling of speech, the first sale doctrine, the global movement of medicines and other commodities, etc, will all be impacted by this ridiculously secret negotiation.

Earth to politicians -- you work for us, not the International Chamber of Commerce. Make this negotiation public!

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